Source:"One point" (ID: abigpoint), author: you Dufang, editor: Li mi
Original title: virtual idol, the night before the shuffle
In 2022, virtual idols came to a crossroads.
On May 10, a-soul, a virtual idol group, issued a statement on station B, saying that Jiale, a member, has entered "live dormancy" due to physical and academic reasons, and its daily live broadcast and most idol activities will also be terminated. He explained that "live sleep" does not mean quitting a-soul, other actors will not be enabled, and there will be no new roles to replace Jiale.
This statement caused a strong reaction from fans, and it was revealed that the members of Le a-soul team had problems such as high training intensity, low salary, poor treatment and so on. Previously, a-soul has been showing a bright side.
More than two months ago, jiaran, a-soul member, broke the record of 16000 ships in the two-hour live broadcast of the birthday party, far higher than other virtual idols. According to the rules of station B, boarding costs 198-19998 yuan. Lehua once recognized the profitability of a-soul and called it the main revenue of Pan entertainment business in the prospectus, with a gross profit of 77%.
The field of virtual idols has become hot and sought after by people. On April 23, 2022, the virtual idol Liu Yexi had a cross dimensional dialogue with Mo Yan at the Tiktok Mo Yan wonderful reading club, discussing life and the meta universe together. Later, relevant topics landed on the Tiktok hot list, and received more than 50 million attention in just a few hours.
Liu Yexi, born with the "golden key", seemed to be sought after by a large number of people at the beginning. When Liu Yexi was officially launched, he gained millions of fans and likes with two short videos in just two days. Behind it, the company Chuangyi technology tells the vision of using virtual idols to build "China Marvel".
In addition to the influence of factors such as "meta universe concept" and "star collapse house", virtual idols have attracted more and more attention and pursuit in China. The 2021 China Virtual idol consumer market research report released by Huskar culture shows that only about 23% of consumers have never heard of virtual idols. Virtual idols have an increasingly broad market in China.
But this can not hide the problems behind the virtual idol. A large number of cruel realities began to pour cold water on capital.
On the one hand, because most companies cannot maintain the high production and operation costs behind virtual idols, a number of virtual idols began to exit. On February 26, 2022, love, once the world's first virtual up master, ended his five-year acting career. There are not a few high-profile virtual idols who exit like trip love. Previously, xinkeniang, who has hundreds of thousands of fans and has been blessed by CCTV, also announced her withdrawal.
On the other hand, the meta universe brought the market "impetuous", and a large number of shoddy products began to appear. An investor once said in an interview with Caixin: "there are so many swindlers in the field of virtual idols that they can't even build models, and the characters are no different from those made with PS. some companies made a virtual human with Metahuman, but their name hasn't been changed. They lied to me that it was made with self-developed software."
At present, capital returns to calm, and the meta universe boom is slowly receding. The stock prices of yuancosmos and virtual digital human concepts continued to decline. The foam and dilemma of the virtual idol industry began to surface.
From tripping love to Jiale, a series of events are showing that the virtual idol has come to the night before the reshuffle, and the myth of not collapsing the house is being dashed.
Chuyin's early popularity in the world has affected China, and more and more Chinese Virtual idols come to reality.
In 2011, Ren Li, who works in bplats, Japan, registered and established "Shanghai Henian Information Technology Co., Ltd." in China. Luo Tianyi was born the following year, and virtual idols such as Yanhe and lezhengling were born at the same time. Subsequently, Shanghai Henian developed rapidly and became the most famous Chinese Virtual singer operator.
Henian's virtual idols were quickly welcomed by the public. On the afternoon of June 12, 2015, once the trial song of Lezheng Lingsheng library was released, it was on the weekly list of bilibilibili bullet screen network in only three hours, and the playback volume broke through the 240000 mark in three days, which caused great repercussions. Luo Tianyi appeared on the stage of Hunan Satellite TV three times in 2016.
The success of Henian has attracted the attention of station B. In 2016, station B participated in the financing of Henian and acquired it in 2019. While acquiring Henian, station B also acquired superpower culture, the organizer of BML and BW. It is worth mentioning that Shanghai Henian is closely linked with chaodian culture business. The former enables a large number of virtual up owners to settle in station B, while the latter is responsible for operating the virtual idol business of station B and expanding the realization space of virtual idols.
Therefore, the virtual idol business of station B has made rapid progress and become an important business. According to public data, in 2019, the revenue of virtual live broadcasting accounted for 40% of the revenue of live broadcasting and value-added services, and Xu Yin became 60% of the world's famous virtual anchor within two years.
In addition to Henian, Tencent was influenced by the future of chuyin in the early stage to develop the virtual idol industry. Unlike station B, Tencent derives virtual idols with its own game IP.
In 2018, Tencent created the first fashion virtual idol star pupil in China, became the virtual spokesman of dazzle dance series games, and cross-border cooperated with Yang Liping in peacock dance. The next year, the king glory team launched the virtual men's group and unlimited King's group. The team won the new power of music of the year at the 2009 tmea Tencent music entertainment festival.
Tencent's virtual idol has become an extension of its own game IP. Todd, the producer of QQ dazzle dance series, once said: "when it comes to the characters and stories of the game, virtual idols can provide a display platform and carrier outside the game. If you want to make the game as an art or cultural product, in fact, virtual idols can enrich your whole available space and means."
In this process, virtual idols began to compete with real people. In the first season of Tencent video "son of tomorrow", the virtual Idol "Hez" competed with the real idol. Ma Jianyue said in the variety show: "whether we can break the barriers of two-dimensional and three-dimensional depends on whether we can accept Heze.".
Previously, virtual idols were regarded as "minority hobbies", and their real breaking circle was in 2020. Virtual idol Luo Tianyi and Pipa master performed a song "Jasmine". Although Luo Tianyi and Wang Peiyu sang "I hope people will live long", this time it has attracted more attention. Tencent virtual male Troupe "infinite King Troupe" appeared on the cover of GQ magazine this year, sang the ending song of the film and released a new album.
After the virtual idol breaks the circle, station B arranges the upstream and downstream industrial chain of the virtual idol. In July 2020, station B invested in lategra, a Japanese technical service provider for offline / online virtual performances. At the end of the next year, station B announced to cooperate with Sony Music to jointly create a virtual idol women's group and plan the virtual Cinderella project. In February 2022, station B acquired Qianyu network, formerly known as Yizhen network. Its main products are virtual idol Incubation Platform and virtual image live broadcast workbench.
The scale of virtual idol industry also began to grow.Southwest SecuritiesData show that in 2020, the scale of China's virtual idol core industry reached 3.46 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 68.8%; The scale of the surrounding market was 64.55 billion yuan, a year-on-year increase of 79.6%. Affected by the epidemic, bml-vr concerts were transferred from offline to online in 2020, and the peak popularity of live online exceeded 10.87 million, an increase of 65% over the previous year.
Business data companyCrowleyIn the insight report on the brand marketing value of virtual spokesmen, it is pointed out that compared with the European and American markets, domestic virtual digital people started a little later and entered the accelerated development period in 2020. This can also be seen from the fact that most virtual people registered in mainstream social media from 2020 to 2021.
IqiyiTaking advantage of this upsurge, the virtual character talent show "cross dimensional new star" was broadcast and attracted the participation of more than 30 virtual idols. After the program was broadcast, the virtual idols left songs, Papa and Shihuo, and successfully signed iqiyi. The peak popularity of this program in iqiyi exceeded 6300, and the reading volume of microblog topics exceeded 1.2 billion.
2019Wanxiang cultureIn 2020, angel round investment was ushered in. Then, in more than a year, Wanxiang culture carried out five times of financing. In addition, Lehua entertainment obtained byte investment in this year and jointly created a virtual women's group a-soul.
At this time, virtual idols began to have more and more business cooperation models. In 2020, luotianyi launched live broadcasting with goods. In its first show of live broadcasting with goods, the number of online followers once reached 3 million, and nearly 2 million people exchanged rewards. It is said that the pit fee is as high as 900000 yuan, far exceeding Weiya and Li Jiaqi.
With the wind of the meta universe blowing, more and more capital flows into this field. The virtual idol has entered an explosive moment.
In 2021, the concept of Yuan universe became popular rapidly in the investment market, and many enterprises increased the yuan universe track one after another. As one of the four major tracks, the virtual idol has attracted much attention because of its low threshold. Some analysts said that if the meta universe is compared to a spacecraft heading for the future, the virtual human may be the first ticket.
Xie an, CEO of digital Kingdom, is acceptingPinWan"It is very difficult for you to find a new business model before 2018. The R & D investment cost is too high, and it is difficult to achieve immediate results in the short term. In the past two years, the meta universe has come out, and more and more companies have begun to explore the application scenarios of virtual human," said the interview
Blue cursorTaking advantage of the hot concept of meta universe, invest in related companies of meta universeBe popular, blue universe Digital Technology Co., Ltd., a subsidiary focusing on exploring the investment and operation business related to yuanuniverse, was established to launch digital virtual people Su Xiaomei, K, etc. In addition, blue cursor and big data companytrsCarried out strategic cooperation.
All kinds of functional digital people were born. These digital people were born out of voice assistants such as Siri and Xiaodu, and completed their own IP image in the process of landing. Most of these virtual people are TOBS, which exist in enterprises and help enterprises complete relevant businesses.
JD.COMJoyce, the virtual human customer service, can help users solve problems such as consultation, price protection, cancellation of orders and so on. Major banks have also launched their own virtual people, such asBaixin bankAiya andBank of NingboXiao Xuan.IFLYTEKUshered in its own virtual HR Aijia, and Vanke awarded the excellent newcomer award to the virtual person Cui Xiaopan.
This kind of virtual human can only complete the simplest interaction. However, Li Di, CEO of Xiaobing, once told Caixin: "in 2021, we said we must pay attention to the diversity of virtual human, because it will blossom everywhere soon, which is definitely not the case with several virtual assistants."
Virtual characters are becoming more and more "super realistic". From lil Miquela, who was popular with instagram at first, to imma, Liu Yexi and others, the hyper realistic virtual human popular network has been accepted by more and more people. On October 31, 2021, Chuangyi technology officially launched the virtual idol Liu Yexi. In just two days, Liu Yexi used two short videos to gain millions of fans and likes. Its founders keep talking about Marvel's vision, which is not groundless in fact.
Previously, Chuangyi technology has incubated Huihui week, Feifei Yu, astronaut Xiaowu and other popular IP. In the early days of Tiktok, Chuangyi technology reaped more than 20billion broadcasts by virtue of huihuizhou's rain control effect. Chuangyi technology is therefore favored by capital. According to public information, Chuangyi technology obtained tens of millions of equity financing from Zhongying holdings in January 2022.
In addition, the virtual image of real idols also began to appear. In March 2022, virtual Teng Lijun and virtual idol Eve appeared at Taipei fashion week. Previously, she and Zhou Shen joined hands in singing songs such as "story of a small town", "walking on the road of life", "big fish" at the new year's Eve Party of Jiangsu Satellite TV, which caused tears in the audience. During the Winter Olympics, Gu Ailing's virtual character "meet Valley" shared his experience in Migu video studio for the first time after winning the gold medal in the Olympic Games.
△ virtual Teng Lijun and virtual idol Eve appeared at Taipei fashion week
Previously, some brands and spokesmen storm thunder events are an opportunity for virtual idols. Compared with real idols, more and more brands tend to force from virtual idols. KFC, huaxiziChina MobileLaunched their own virtual spokesmen.
Quotations from Chairman Mao ZedongTaking the opportunity to build a virtual idol community, in September 2021, it launched the "trend digital age" plan to layout the virtual idol matrix, and invited IMA, Axi Angie, Alice and other super realistic virtual idols to cooperate with Gucci, Givenchy, Maison Margiela, off white and other brands to try on these global new products.
"Virtual human" ecological companySecondary cultureThus, three rounds of financing were completed within one year, with a total value of more than ten million US dollars. Its round a + financing is provided byNeteaseCapital led investment, followed by dynamic capital, Shunwei capital and Chuangshi partner CCV. Among them, Shunwei capital and Chuangshi partner are the old shareholders who invested from pre-A and a rounds respectively.
According to 36 krypton statistics, there were 16 virtual idol related investments in 2021, with financing amounts ranging from millions of yuan to tens of millions of dollars. Then there were hundreds of related financing of more than 400 million yuan in January 2022 alone.Sky eye checkIt shows that there are nearly 290000 virtual idol related enterprises in China.
However, capital often imagines virtual idols as too beautiful. Facts have proved that virtual idols are not omnipotent.
2021 is a particularly important year for "fan culture". This year, the state severely cracked down on all kinds of irrational assistance activities. In addition, stars such as Wu Yifan and Huo Zun have successively collapsed due to personal conduct problems. This series of events dealt a great blow to the rice circle culture. There is a heated debate about whether virtual idols can replace real idols.
Like real idols, virtual idols also have a huge and fanatical fan empire. As early as 2015, many fans waved green fluorescent sticks in Shanghai Fengyun E-sports hall to call for the future of chuyin. This is the first time that chuyin will sing in mainland China in the future. Although most people did not understand this phenomenon at that time, it did not prevent tickets from being sold out in just a few minutes.
Yang Guangying, an associate professor of Sichuan Academy of fine arts, once said in banyuetan that the virtual idol produced by digital technology is not only an intermediary, but also a social "actor". "A bunch of powder, never collapse" is the expectation of fans for virtual idols. Therefore, compared with the fans of real idols, the fans of virtual idols have completely different rules.
"Love from the heart" and "not accepting the guidance of capital public opinion" are the basic values of virtual idol fans. Due to the association between a-soul and Lehua entertainment and byte beat, they were regarded as the target of public criticism by v-circle fans in the early stage of their debut. Similar to "puppets from capital attempt to destroy our pure V circle", "capital cannon is coming, run", "V circle is aSmall circleSon, please, my Lord, there are a lot of comments like "let us go".
In fact, most virtual idols are inextricably linked with capital, such as Tencent's "thousand bird team" and Netease's "China trip love". Even in Japan, the birthplace of virtual idols, most companies are associated with capital. The reason why circle V resisted the arrival of a-soul was mainly worried that Lehua entertainment moved the real idol "rice circle culture" to the virtual idol fan group.
In order to prevent the deterioration of virtual idol fan culture, its fan group is decentralized, without "pink head" and "station sister". In addition, there are a large number of "police" who take the initiative to supervise whether someone engages in "small groups" in private. Now a-soul has reversed its image with its strength. In their live broadcast, "Luyou", "Daoyou", "douyou", "shuoyou" and other different groups coexist peacefully.
It is worth mentioning that many fans will "check their identity" in fan gathering places such as forum and post bar before entering the pit V circle, and thoroughly consult the past history of virtual idols, for fear that their fans will collapse one day. Nevertheless, "powder a beam of light, never collapse the house" does not seem reliable.
In addition, in January 2022, the public opinion center of people's network mentioned in the prospective research report on public opinion risk management of virtual idol industry: "virtual idols are at risk of being stigmatized. If virtual idols convey incorrect values, they may also affect and impact social cohesion and values".
Attack on netizens after replay of a virtual idol under "hololive"
"Trilingual genius" Zuo Jiumian was criticized by netizens for publishing "speaking Chinese is disgusting" before entering station B. Although it responded to this after entering station B, the title of "miandazuo" spread like wildfire. Zojimian finally stopped updating in December 2020. The action of virtual YouTube captures two virtual idols under the app "hololive" who collapsed in China because of humiliating Chinese speech theory.
It involves the operation of people in. The establishment of virtual idol IP is inseparable from the people who provide dubbing and action behind it. In a sense, the person in the is the soul of the virtual idol. To some extent, virtual idols have behaviors or emotions from real humans. Even if there is no middle person, the virtual idol still can't get rid of the artificial way to manage the action or role behavior.
Therefore, no matter whether zojimian or hollive's virtual idol's "house collapse" is initially a problem for the middle man. Even if the "middle man" is replaced, the virtual idol still can't get rid of the risk of house collapse.
How to maintain the relationship between the operating company and the middle person is also a problem that can not be ignored. This problem has greatly damaged the vitality of trip love. In 2019, when the cause of trip love is on the rise, its operating company active8 released the "trip love separation plan", which divides trip love into primary love, second love, third love and fourth love through the middle person. Four of them can speak Chinese. The plan was not understood by a large number of fans at the beginning.
But then, with the less and less appearances of chuhao love, "the prototype will eventually sleep", "the initial love is about to leave" and "chuhao love is marginalized" are heard all the time. As these comments were hammered by netizens step by step, the number of fans tripped up and fell sharply, and their fame began to decline gradually. Trip love finally announced that it officially entered indefinite dormancy on February 26, 2022. Now a-soul seems to be facing this problem.
Looking carefully at the previous several people's house collapse experience, it is not difficult to find that virtual idols and real idols have the same risk. In addition to the personal factors of "people in the middle", there are many risk factors such as output works and the operation mode of the company, which also test the ability of the team behind them. A little negligence in each link will cause immeasurable losses.
These are just the tip of the iceberg.
The explosion of virtual idols did not produce new industries, but only provided more high-cost businesses for some companies.
In 2022, Deng Lijun's appearance at Jiangsu new year's Eve party and Taipei fashion week caused a sensation, and the company Digital Kingdom behind her became famous. After the opening of Hong Kong stocks in the new year, the share price of digital Kingdom rose for five consecutive days, up more than 40%. Such honors are not uncommon for the digital Kingdom, which previously relied on Post special effects production of films such as Titanic and the Avengers.
But this cannot hide the fact that the digital kingdom is difficult to make profits. On January 31, 2022, digital Kingdom issued a profit warning at the end of the month when its share price soared, and said that "although the performance of visual effects production services and post production services continued to improve, the business distribution of 360 degree digital capture technology and virtual reality services failed to maintain the revenue growth recorded in the second half of this fiscal year".
According to the results of 2021 released by digital Kingdom, its loss in 2021 was about HK $781 million, an increase of about 30% over last year. Digital Kingdom explained the loss in the performance statement: "the reasons for the loss in 2021 include the impairment of goodwill and intangible assets, as well as the research and development cost of virtual human technology". The content production of virtual idol technology is divided into three aspects: model production, binding and animation production.
Ge Cheng, deputy director of the new technology R & D center of next studios, once told 36kr: "A good modeler can make a virtual human model very much like Teresa Teng, but it is very difficult for them to move without making a play. It needs to test the binding ability. When the model and binding are completed, animation production is needed. Although a better foundation of animation can be obtained with the help of high-quality mobile capture technology and equipment in the early stage, animators are still needed to participate in the production of clothes, hair and skin. Although the industry can achieve a certain degree of automation, But the cost is still not low. "
△ there are frequent initial bugs in "trans dimensional nova"
In 2020, iqiyi launched the virtual idol talent show "cross dimensional new star", which exposed a lot of problems in the first few issues. A large number of virtual idols have problems in the modeling stage, which is very different from the poster picture. During the performance, the posture was very strange, and even "downtime" and "broken sound" appeared. In the whole process, the effect of virtual idol players is very rigid.
However, although companies like digital Kingdom have superb virtual human production technology, it is difficult for them to obtain capital recognition. From the top ten net buy / sell brokers of digital Kingdom stocks, we can know that most of the investors interested in their stocks are retail investors.
In fact, most investors regard the digital kingdom as a special effects or animation company. Because these companies have unstable orders, few fixed customers and unstable profits, it is difficult to win the favor of investors. Shun Wei capital investor Feng Zheng also admitted that companies that are pure virtual idols are not as popular in financing as you think.
If virtual idols want to think of a circle, just having a good-looking skin bag is not enough. Commercial realization has become another difficult problem in the operation of virtual idols. At present, the realization methods of virtual idols and online celebrities are the same. There are basically two kinds: one is the commercial activities of endorsement and promotion, and the other is the income from live rewards, concert tickets or IP derivatives sales.
In the two-dimensional virtual anchor, the phenomenon of oligarchy is very serious, and most virtual anchors are difficult to obtain income. Although jiaran attracted a large number of people to "board the ship" at its birthday party, in fact, more than half of the virtual idols in station B have only single digits and even no captain. Like Luo Tianyi, the live selling commercial activities of 900000 pit fee are rare.
The group of super realistic virtual idols active in xiaohongshu just stole most of the jobs of online celebrities, but their cost is much higher than that of online celebrities. A new virtual idol will be born every few days in the little red book. Because the current technology can not allow them to interact with the audience live, they quickly fade into people's memory after winning the endorsement.
At present, everyone wants to build the future of chuyin, but behind the future of chuyin is a huge capital investment. Insiders once said that behind the future of chuyin is to make the whole budget and expenditure in billion units, which is not affordable for all enterprises.
UBS reported that the average initial investment cost of senior virtual characters is 30 million yuan. The single production cost of a-soul is about 2 million yuan, and the cost of an offline concert is about 20 million yuan. Even for a brokerage company like SM, the cost of idol training is only equivalent to 1 million yuan.
Although Lehua claims that the gross profit margin of a-soul is as high as 77%, in fact, Lehua is only responsible for the publicity and operation cost of a-soul. The cost of modeling and equipment is borne by the dawn night light year of byte beat. Therefore, even head virtual idols such as a-soul cannot prove that they are profitable.
As stated in the prospective research report on public opinion risk management of virtual idol industry, the supporting policies for virtual idol industry have not been improved, and the policy continuity can not keep up has also become a risk point. There are more questions to be answered in the field of virtual idol in the future.
In February 2022, the official account of station B "BiliBili E-sports" sent a document saying that a large number of users had received feedback that the image of the virtual anchor signed by the company was suspected of plagiarism. The company's investigation results showed that the vertical painted face of "ranoca" signed by VuP was indeed highly similar to that of another VuP. With the emergence of more and more virtual idols, the homogenization of virtual idols will be inevitable. However, how to define plagiarism has not been clarified.
In addition, with the emergence of Star Digital people, various ethical problems may arise. Xie an also expressed concern about this and claimed that if someone uses super realistic virtual people to forge videos of enterprise executives and leaders, it will have a negative impact on social stability and economy.
At present, some companies raise funds in the name of meta universe, making the virtual idol market fishy eyed. At present, more and more low-quality virtual people are flooding on the short video platform. Many accounts only replace the real face with the virtual human image and start the operation of virtual idols.
Therefore, the CBRC issued the "tips on preventing the risk of illegal fund-raising in the name of" yuanuniverse "to remind investors. Subsequently, the China Mobile Communications Federation yuan universe Industry Committee issued the yuan universe industry self-discipline convention.
At present, virtual idols are still hot, and a large number of virtual idols have emerged, but there is no second Luo Tianyi. Zhang Shule, an Internet and game industry observer, told China Business Daily that metauniverse can only be regarded as a "prehistoric stage". At present, the overall performance ability of virtual digital people that can be carried by technology can not reach a real virtual idol or a truly intelligent assistant role.
All this is just like what an investor said to Caixin. If there is no breakthrough technical support, the foam of the virtual human will soon burst.
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